The world is full of weird and wonderful plants. Seeing as it's a creepy time of year we thought we would share some of our (pause for a ghoulish laugh) Flesh Eating Plants...well, we say flesh eating, they actually just eat bugs and other tiny organisms, which isn't so much creepy as BRILLIANT.
A bit more about our favourite bug munching friends! All carnivorous plants can be found in areas where the soil has very little nutrients. To gain nutrients they use various tricks to attract insects, which they then plunge into digestive juices to dissolve and eat them (sorry, creepy voice is back) There are more than 630 different species which have various types of traps - here are our favourite three!
Only one type of carnivorous plant uses a bladder trap - bladderworts! They are found all over the world.
Most species have very small traps, in which they can catch only teeny tiny prey, the traps only range from 0.2mm – 1.2cm. Larger traps are just about capable of catching water fleas and even small tadpoles.
The traps have small trigger hairs attached to a trapdoor. When the trigger hairs are tripped, the trap door opens up, sucks in the insect and surrounding water, and closes the door again, all in a matter of 10 thousands of a second.
A common pitfall trap plant is the Pitcher Plant. The leaves on this one have evolved into a funnel, with a hood growing over the opening to prevent rain getting in and diluting the digestive juices. Insects are attracted by the bright colours, various odours and a nectar-like secretion on the edges of the plant. As soon as the foolish bug lands on the edge of the plant it either slips in or is helped along by a narcotic drug lacing the nectar. Once it's plopped into to juices, it's dissolved and digested. Yum!
Definitely the most recognisable of the bug-hungry plants - The Venus flytrap is a snap trap plant! The leaf blades on Venus fly traps are divided into two regions: a flat, long, heart shaped leaves that can make food through photosynthesis, and a pair of chunky ones that are hinged, forming the trap. The inner surfaces of these leaves are coloured and secrete attractive
They also have special sensory hairs which are so clever they can tell if whatever is tickling them is a fly or a bit of dirt - insects only on the menu for this one!. It's also super fast - the trap snaps shut in about 0.1 seconds. The prickly edges mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping. Once prey is unable to escape and the inner surfaces of the leaves are being wriggled on by the unfortunate meal, the edges of the leaves stick together, sealing the trap and creating an enclosed “stomach” in which digestion and absorption can take place. Tasty!